Excellence in sports science; hard times for students

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QS released its World University Rankings by Subject this week. Bath’s best performance was in sports-related subjects, where it was ranked 8th in the world in 2022, but a total of 14 subjects were ranked in the top 20 in the UK.

Student affairs

OfS have published refreshed student engagement priorities for 2022-23.  These refreshed priorities were shaped by engagement with students, students’ unions, sector student experts and the OfS student panel.

A House of Commons Library research briefing on the value of student maintenance support suggests that students are facing a 7% cut in spending power. A poll of 1,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 parents conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Unite Students in March 2022 found that 66 per cent of students and 73 per cent of parents are extremely worried about the rising cost of living, and more than a third of parents are struggling to support their children at university.

Delegates from students’ associations across Scotland have voted to break away from the rest of the UK, following a vote held at yesterday’s NUS Scotland conference. Matt Crilly and Larissa Kennedy, presidents of NUS Scotland and NUS UK respectively, released a joint statement supporting the decision and said that the change will not mean an end to “cross-border solidarity”.

Academic staff issues

Shadow Higher Education Minister, Matt Western, has requested a Department for Education investigation into the USS pensions scheme and its management – in doing so he commended the work of university staff during the pandemic.

The five unions who are part of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff have criticised the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) for not presenting a pay offer at the first of three meetings on this year’s pay negotiations. In turn, UCEA has expressed its disappointment following this meeting.

Regulatory and finance

Nicola Dandridge reflected on her time as OfS chief executive in a speech given to the Association of Heads of University Administration's spring conference on Tuesday. Within the speech, she challenged the sector to own up to poor quality provision.

The Department for Education has announced the distribution of £400m of funding to upgrade college campuses across the UK – the latest part of the Further Education Capital Fund.


OfS have published information and links to guidance for providers on higher education issues related to the crisis in Ukraine. Around 30 British universities have expressed an interest in joining a twinning scheme with universities in Ukraine, which could include hosting academics, summer schools for students and the provision of “ac.uk” e-mail addresses to Ukrainian academics. The Guardian reports that politicians and Universities UK have sought the creation of a visa scheme for Ukrainian academics and students in a letter to home secretary Priti Patel.

Meanwhile, King's College London has been working with Citizens UK on a university-led sponsorship scheme for refugees from Ukraine. The ambition is to identify displaced Ukrainian students and match them with universities that offer similar courses to those the student was previously studying.  Bronwyn Parry and Leonie Ansems de Vries explain the King’s scheme in more detail and outline their hope that it could provide a model for the wider HE sector.


The Disabled Students’ Commission has published its second annual report. It reports a degree awarding gap for disabled students of 1.1 per cent in 2020-21 – driving a Commission focus on improving the disabled student experience.

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